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December 26, 2022

2 Fantasy Novels for Young Readers

by MK French

Did you or your kid get a new eReader for Christmas? If they (or you) love fantasy novels, then definitely check out these two books for young readers.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Tommy and the Order of the Cosmic Champions by Anthony D. Grate & Anthony J. Rapino

book cover of middle grades fantasy novel Tommy and the Order of the Cosmic Champions by Anthony D. Grate and Anthony J. Rapino
October 2022; Greenleaf Book Group; 978-1626349667
audio, ebook, print (392 pages); middle grades fantasy

In rural 1988 Ohio, Tommy Grant retreats into watching the Order of the Cosmic Champions than deal with life. When his entry into the show's "Create A Character" doesn't win, Tommy is devastated. Now there's only one way for him to fix things when his life seems to be falling apart.

Starting with Tommy playing with his action figures, the vividly imagined battles reminds me of LitRPG novels or playing tabletop games. His ordinary life with the end of elementary school includes a best friend who no longer wants to spend time with him and then beats him up, parents splitting up, bullies harassing him constantly, and a favorite show that's off the air that he can only watch through VHS tapes. Being sad and lonely, everything hits Tommy hard. The cartoon characters and ones of his design are his comfort and talk to him, and the comic shop owner suggests a multiverse as the reason why he can see them. It's certainly a nicer explanation than depression.

My heart went out to Tommy, who felt that he had no one to talk to without some kind of repercussion. Miranda was determined to be his friend and even faced down her strict and overbearing father out of concern for his wellbeing. His other friend Sammy might not have known what was going on, but was there for him through a lot of the bullying. Tommy's adventure was punctuated by fights between characters, meeting strangers, and getting a better sense of himself and what he believed in. As with any hero's journey, he returns home changed for the better. While change can be painful, it can also lead to growth and a new realization that the future is what we make it. That's certainly a great lesson for middle-grade readers.

Exalted (Sovereigns Book 3) by Kandi J. Wyatt

book cover of young adult fantasy novel Exalted by Kandi Wyatt
October 2022; Indie; 979-8354246366
ebook, print (451 pages); young adult fantasy

Hest is married and the new king, and barely has enough time to juggle the duties of rule with duties as a dragonrider or husband. His dreams of an old enemy returning to destroy everything feels like a prophecy, and his efforts to protect his wife alienate her. When Hest and Usheen are shot out of the sky, he's captured and must do whatever it takes to protect those he loves.

This novel follows the story begun in Uprooted, then continued in Blessed. He had gone from presumed slave to king over the course of the novels, which makes him incredibly uncomfortable. He doesn't like the politicking and fawning nobles, hates that he can't trust others and needs guards around him constantly, and that some people don't trust him because of his dragon. His desperation drives him away, leaving him most at risk; as much as advisors keep telling him he's doing a good job as king, the doubt and nightmares weigh on him heavily. It's a difficult time for him, and I feel sorry for Hest. One advisor outright tells him that navigating the nobility can take a lifetime to learn, yet they expect him to do it immediately and not question their advice.

The first half of the story sets up the tensions that take over in the second half. It's a lot of fighting, intrigue, and magic. I enjoyed this half of the book much more than the first, so I suppose I'm a little impatient like Hest. It moves rapidly, and Hest finally seems to understand that he can't fight alone. He might be the only one with a dragon and the only one able to use certain magics, but he's part of a kingdom and a team of fighters. When we get to the end, it's a satisfying conclusion. We also get the teaser for a fourth book. There's more in store for this kingdom and the people in it, with a lot more intrigue to come.

Buy Exalted at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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